Moving to University is a big change and there are lots of dreaded jobs you have to learn to do on your own, including: cleaning, washing, cooking and, of course, the dreaded weekly food shop. At first it seems like a large amount of effort and I would spend ages wandering around the supermarket trying to decide what on earth I needed to buy. Gradually I have learnt tips and tricks to master the incredibly difficult art of food shopping and here are some of my top tips:
- Meal planning – Each week, before I do my weekly shop, I plan my meals. This way I know what I need to buy and it makes sure that everything I buy will actually be used. Also, it means that I only have to go to the Supermarket once a week, plus if I don’t do this I always end up having no idea what to cook with the food that I have bought and I probably would end up eating a lot less healthy than I intend to.
- Write a shopping list – Ok, so I know people will read this and think it’s “mumsy” and lame, HOWEVER, it is the worst when you go home, start cooking and realise you’ve forgotten a key ingredient. This isn’t to say that you can’t buy other things that aren’t on the list, but it makes sure that you have everything that you need that week.
- Go to budget shops – This may seem like even more effort, but sometimes before I go and do my main shop at Morrisons I will occasionally go to Home Bargains or Poundland to see if there is any good deals that would mean I spend less money than at at Morrisons. Even if you don’t go to budget shops then sometimes compromising on buying brands really isn’t that bad and sometimes the savers products at supermarkets aren’t actually that bad – plus you save SO much money.
- Choose the right time to go shopping – Avoid shopping on a Saturday or a Sunday morning/afternoon because it is PACKED and makes your whole shopping experience 10x more stressful. The best time I’ve ever been shopping was 9am on a Wednesday morning – It is practically empty it is SO much nicer and a faster trip!
- Order online – Alternatively, you can avoid the crowds altogether and order your food shop online and schedule it to be delivered to your accommodation. The only problems I have with ordering online is that:
1) You have to be home when they deliver and sometimes, if they are delayed, this can really mess up your plans.
2) You don’t get to pick out the exact food (mainly relevant for fruit, veg and meat) and so they may not be the best possible fruit and vegetables, and also may have an earlier best before date than you could potentially get in store when you can pick the exact food.
3) Annoyingly, it seems like each time I make an order I always get substitutions and therefore you may not get everything that you actually need for the week and end up having to go back to the shop anyway.
4) Finally, there’s something nice about going round a supermarket and picking up treats that you’re in the mood for that you wouldn’t necessarily see online.Overall, therefore, I prefer to go to the shops to buy my food – however when in a lazy mood it is definitely nice to get all your food delivered (sometimes it costs about £1 to be delivered – basically nothing.)
- Freeze food/ leftovers – If you are like me and hate throwing away leftover food that’s gone manky or hate wasting your money on food that you don’t end up using then I would definitely recommend freezing. Not only does it reduce the amount of waste but also means that you don’t have to cook every night, and let’s be real, who wants to bother sweating over a stove every night (not literally that’s gross). An example are loaves of bread. There’s no way that I can finish a loaf of bread before it goes stale or mouldy, it’s such a waste, however I am quite partial to a piece of toast every now and then so I still want to have some bread in the flat – particularly after a night out!! Therefore, freezing is the best option because you can just put it straight in the toaster from the freezer. Another tip for freezing is when you have foods such as sausages and bacon – Separate them up into different plastic bags so that when you defrost them you don’t have to defrost the whole pack and eat it within about 2 days (not that I’d complain). So, I usually split the sausages into bags of 2 and the bacon into bags of 3 and then defrost them when I want to use them.
I hope you find some of these tips relatable and/or they help other Uni students with their weekly food shop. Any other tips would definitely still be appreciated because food shopping is definitely still not my favourite thing to do in the world!!